Online Messenger #241
Western Watersheds Project and our colleagues at Western Lands Project and Desert Protective Council filed a lawsuit today challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to make millions of acres of public lands in six western states available for the siting of destructive, utility-scale solar power plants. The suit cites the government’s failure to consider alternatives that would focus solar power development on degraded or developed lands instead of sacrificing healthy public lands and wildlife habitats to industrial energy development.
WWP opposes the BLM’s plan, as detailed in its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States, to make 19 million acres of public land open to industrial solar applications in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The public lands of our southwestern deserts provide habitat for many special status species of wildlife and rare plants. If the species such as the desert tortoise and the greater sage-grouse are to survive in the face of climate change, we need to protect their habitat not fragment it and convert it into an industrial wasteland.
In the complaint, the groups assert that the BLM violated the law by failing to examine less damaging alternatives such as roof-top solar or siting solar energy facilities only on previously disturbed areas. The groups, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, called for analysis of these alternatives during comment periods but the BLM ignored them. The EPA’s comments on the PEIS can be viewed here (pdf).
Plaintiffs are represented by Western Lands Project Staff Attorney Christopher Krupp.